Kleos (“glory, fame”) is the concept of glory earned in heroic battle. Kleos is often given visible representation by the prizes won in battle.
I had myself really psyched out for the Lincoln Creek Back-To-Back One Days. In the week leading up to the show, I had myself convinced that we had not schooled enough this year, and it was going to be a real dumpster fire out there on course. I had a mini-meltdown as I was packing the truck Friday morning, and Scott had to talk me off the ledge. Finally after a good cry and pity-party, I made my way to the barn, packed the trailer and was off.
Lesson #1 of the weekend — or is it two? is follow the directions of the show organizer, not of the lady on your Maps app. Let’s just say that we learned that a horse trailer will fit over that ancient one-lane bridge with no guardrails. We arrived unscathed, but I was a little jangled (again? still?). We found a stall, and I got Kip bedded down, and I set up camp. I met a new friend, also competing on Saturday in the same Division as Kip and me. We camped next to each other, and cheered each other on. It was nice. She was lovely and full of good advice, and was a sympathetic ear for me to bend about my misgivings.
Saturday was Senior Beginning Novice, and I went in for my warm-up very early to give Kip a good look around the field. The weather was beautiful all day, light clouds and cool. I focused on getting his mind to work, forward and stretching down. We had a beautiful test, and I felt great going into Stadium. The course was short, only 8 jumps, but it was twisty and had a bending line that you needed to pay attention to, and ride through. We rode it very nicely, with all the rails up, and then it was on to XC. The BN Sr. riders were all abuzz at the course, there were a number of maxed out tables on the course, and a very technical for the level #7 – a long gallop up a hill, 90 degree turn, down the hill, with a red barn at the bottom, sitting in very high grass. Everyone was also concerned about #14 – a maxed out coop with hay sticking out of it all over, and the sight-line was right into a steep hill. But, ultimately, none of that mattered to Kip, who dragged me to every fence – ears up, eyes bright, strong in the bridle. The biggest story for the BN course for us was the #4, an inviting natural roll-top. There were three of them sitting side-by-side, with the BN jump being furthest to the right. As we galloped up, from a dozen strides back, I could feel him lock on to the Novice obstacle. I tried and tried to pull his gaze off of it and on to the BN, but he was having none of it. We jumped the Novice a little sideways at speed, and I cursed under my breath and circled him around, and jumped the correct jump. I had no idea how they were going to score that. I didn’t let it color the rest of the ride, and we completed the course perfectly.
Somehow, after those three excellent rides, I still had myself freaked out about Novice the next day, and was filled with dread anticipating Sunday’s rides. I can’t believe I didn’t let myself enjoy what beautiful rides we had on Saturday. But I didn’t – so I got Kip washed down, and cooled out, gave him some hay and decided to walk the Novice course while I waited for the final scores. I try to never look at my placings throughout the day, waiting until I am done with all of my rides to check out the scores. Well. After stadium, I was in first place. The whole time I was walking the Novice course I was beating myself up over jumping the wrong jump at number four, telling myself I had robbed good and brave Kip of the ribbon he deserved by my crappy riding. And the Novice course looked hard. Not the jumps, mind you, I was not worried about any of those, I was worried about all the long gallops, and jumping Into The Woods. The number 12 was an upbank into a wooded corridor, a gallop through the woods next to a beaver pond, jump out of the woods over a ditch, through a field, then back into the woods for a twisty path and another long gallop to the last two maxed out tables. Kip gets claustrophobic, and if he can’t see how to get out, he may very well not go in. So, those were all my thoughts as I trudged back toward the show office, when the kids from Maplewood let me know that we had placed first after all! Woo hoo! Go Kip!
I went to the show office to pick up our ribbon. Horse shows are run by volunteers, and god bless ’em. I am thankful there are parents and enthusiasts to put these things on for me and Kip to go have fun. That said, when I made it to the front of the line (a mother was complaining loudly that some other parents were walking by the Grasshopper field, talking and laughing while her daughter was on course. They distracted the pony, causing her daughter to miss a jump. That should NOT be held against her. Oy vey.) the overtaxed volunteer asked what placing I had:
Me: First, Senior Beginning Novice.
Them: Which Division?
Me: Senior. Beginning Novice
Them: What place?
Me: (a little louder to be heard over the mother) First.
Them: (wanders over to the ribbon racks) What Division? (it goes on from here like this – I will spare you this round). She finally comes over and tells me I can pick a prize – a green bucket, or a plate with a cowboy on it. I choose the plate. She hands me a ribbon. Fourth place, Junior Novice.
Me: This is a Fourth.
I finally get the correct ribbon. Evening comes, I go to bed. Cry a little. Worry most of the night. Sunday dawns cool and rainy. My dressage is at 8:06. I did not have time for a long warm-up, and Kip felt tired. It was full-on raining, He was behind the leg, and a little stiff, but we made it through without me taking us off course. One down. At Stadium, we were both tired and had a hard time getting going. I was worried I would not have any horse left for XC, so decided to keep the warm-up jumps to a minimum. Unfortunately, Kip just kinda smashed through the oxer, and gave a big buck out of frustration – I told him to cut it out, and miraculously, he did. I got him going in a good forward canter, took the rebuilt oxer, and went over to the starting gate. Once in the arena, he gave me another beautiful round, He was careful and listening, and another phase was behind us. He felt pretty tired on the way back to the stalls.
I have to input here – many people all weekend were commenting on how cute Kip is, and how much fun we were to watch together. We got so many complements, it was wonderful and weird, and just confirms my opinion that Kip is a wonderful, bright, charismatic horse.
We had an hour and a half until XC. There was a torrential downpour.
My mental state going in to XC was better, and I was telling myself that if Kip felt too tired I would just retire him, that we had had a good weekend, and I wanted to keep it positive. It was still raining, but just proper rain, the deluge had temporarily abated. We were second in the order of go, and Kip left the start box going forward. The first jump was a very friendly log. Up and over. #2 was a coop topped with flowers — he sucked back and I booted him over. Three, he was still not as forward as I wanted, so gave him a little smack behind my leg with my whip in my right hand. This is why when I approached #4, the aforementioned roll-top we jumped on Saturday, my right hand holding my crop was by my side, reins in the left. The force of him leaving the ground was huge, flinging my arm up in the famous “Taxi Hailing” position. I always wondered how that happens. What is hilarious is I had the presence of mind to yell “Taxi!” over the top of the fence. Cracked up the jump judges, and I was laughing like a lunatic down the #5 drop. That was it. Kip was on. Number six was a ramp, and a sweeping turn to seven. Bending line to eight, a large barn in the middle of a field by itself, but Kip had no intention of trying to go around it. Nine was a large, dark, log-ramp thing with the water 2 or 3 strides out. I wanted him to get as good a look as possible, and the approach was short , so I pulled him up into a bouncy canter – he took it all in stride, no problems to report. Long gallop up a hill to a rampy table, then twelve was the up-bank to the woods I was worried about. I pushed him as far to the left as I could , so he’d be able to see down the wooded corridor, and that I was not jumping him into a solid wall of brush and trees. His head was up and he was starting to pronk when I finally got him to a point where he could see the corridor, and he lept up the bank. We trotted in the woods for a brief time, me patting him and telling him what a good, brave boy he was. It wasn’t long though that he took the bit and we were off, out of the woods, over a ditch, a ramp, up the very steep molehill, and down, number 16 a coop in the field, and then back into the woods. For this entry I galloped him in the open field, and didn’t turn him to the chute of brush and tall grass leading to the forest until I could tell he’d have a good view. That worked well, and going around the other jumps to find ours was a little tense, but we did it just fine. Then it was basically a long gallop to a max table, then another gallop to the last maxed table. We crossed the finish line and I was absolutely (finally!) elated. Kip had been just brilliant, and we had had a great time; just perfect. I moved away from the finish flags, hopped off and loosened his girth. We had a nice walk back to the stalls. I checked the postings. I was fourth after Dressage and Stadium had not posted yet. No matter, since I had gone double clear, at this point the lowest I could get is fourth. I was in the ribbons! Hallelujah! The rain turned into a downpour. We were both soaked to the skin by the time we reached the stall.
I struck camp and packed while I waited for results. It was warm and pouring rain for most of the time, so everything was packed while damp or straight up wringing wet.
I went to check the results, and I was mysteriously in fifth place with 20 XC penalties. I went to the judging trailer to find out what I had gotten a penalty for. When they reviewed the jump judges tallies, they realized I had actually gone clear. This, of course, changed the Division ranking. I was told to go to the Show office to tell them that the rankings had changed, and not to give out any ribbons yet. I trot over and tell them, to much heavy sighing and eye rolling, because they had already given out all of the ribbons – except the fifth-place one. One of the volunteers snatches up the paperwork and remaining tests and goes to the trailer. Much discussion and hand waiving happen. I go back to the board, and in looking more closely, realize that I should actually be in Second. After some feathers were smoothed, they found a spare Second-place ribbon for me, but it said “Senior Beginning Novice on it, did I care?” Of course not. So I took my beautiful red ribbon and my prize (fly spray!!) off to the stalls to show Kip. He wanted to eat the ribbon and was disappointed to find it was not carrots.
We loaded up and drove home.